A July Fourth visit to Ferry Farm revealed a place in transition. The historic site is beginning to resemble what George Washington’s admirers have dreamed of for nearly a century.
People have wanted to replicate the first U.S. president’s boyhood home on the Stafford County banks of Rappahannock River since the years of his birth’s bicentennial, back during the Depression era.
Now, The George Washington Foundation is doing it.
Credibly, too. In deciding what to build and how to do it, the nonprofit and its consultants have taken pains to heed what archaeological research, period documents and sound history told them.
Visitors say they’re impressed by the colorful, frame house that’s risen on this hallowed landscape, resting lightly atop the stone cellar of the Washington home’s buried remains.
Yet few have had yet had a peek at its handsome interior, which craftsmen are still busy knitting together—one timber, one brick and one batch of plaster at a time. If things go well, that may change this fall.
But the $40 million Future of Our Past Campaign undertaken by the foundation isn’t just about this one dwelling; it encompasses Historic Kenmore in Fredericksburg, also a national historic landmark.
And long term, the nonprofit’s intent at Ferry Farm is to recreate the small village that was Augustine and Mary Washington’s plantation, so that guests get a good sense of what an industrious place it was in the first half of the 1700s. Archaeologists have discovered not just the site of George’s home, but the complex of buildings that comprised his family’s “home farm.”
Gradually re-creating that farmstead, which included the enslaved people who shared its riverfront terrace with the Washingtons, will help visitors more fully appreciate the interwoven strands of history at this site in George’s era.
For us today, it’s an extra-interesting time to drop by—just as Monticello or Montpelier or Mount Vernon are most appealing when one of them has a major, new endeavor underway.
That makes this summer and fall a more memorable time to visit Ferry Farm. George (and Mary), surely, would be glad of your company.
Long term, the nonprofit’s intent
at Ferry Farm is
to recreate the
small village that was
Augustine and Mary Washington’s
plantation, to give a good sense of what an industrious place it was.